Trump’s influence looms large over congressional Republicans

House Republicans woke up Wednesday morning to an increasingly familiar circumstance: a social media decree from former president Donald Trump.

“KILL FISA,” Trump said after midnight on his Truth Social platform, referring to parts of the national security surveillance program that the chamber was preparing to consider renewing.

Hours later, a procedural vote to start the debate failed, with 19 Republicans joining Democrats to block it — and throwing its fate into question ahead of a looming deadline. Prospects for success were cloudy before Trump weighed in, but for supporters of the program — including embattled Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) — the former president’s intervention was anything but welcome.

“I think it probably swayed people on the underlying bill,” Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) told reporters afterward. “I mean, when the president weighs in on something, it moves votes in the U.S. House Republican Conference.”

By Friday morning, a deal was on the table, but only after “some conversations with” Trump, according to House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) to shorten the measure’s time span, perhaps allowing the former president to overhaul the intelligence measure if he’s reinstalled in the White House.

The House GOP’s initial sinking of the national security vote, and the compromise, is only the latest sign congressional Republicans are falling in line more deeply behind Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, no matter how far his mercurial politics diverge from traditional GOP orthodoxy. Once staunch security hawks, some Republicans now routinely attack the FBI by falsely claiming it spied on the Trump campaign. Once happy warriors against Russia, many now balk at sending money to arm Ukraine. Once strongly for border security and banning abortion, many found reasons to reject a tough immigration compromise and to soften their abortion stances along with Trump statements.

Sometimes Trump is echoing positions that Republicans in Congress already hold or are moving toward. But his ability to shift the political and policy winds is undeniable, hastening trends, setting fresh contours of debate or even helping to sink a bipartisan compromise (such as on immigration reform).

Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), a Trump critic before he ran for office who has become a loyalist, said Trump’s influence is greater in the House than in the Senate because of the “political incentives.” House members face voters every two years instead of every six like in the Senate.

As the House gears up for a potential vote on Ukraine funding next week, Vance predicted that Trump will intervene. “I’m sure Trump will have influence, and I’m sure that he’ll make his opinion known,” Vance said.

For Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Trump out of office has become the “fourth branch of government.”

Raskin argued that one of the most alarming examples of congressional Republicans taking cues from Trump and quickly falling in line with him was the decision to scrap the launch of an independent and nonpartisan investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot. His influence on the conference has only grown since, Raskin said.

Trump’s impact on House Republicans will be on peak display Friday at Mar-a-Lago, where Speaker Johnson will hold a news conference with Trump centering on the former president’s favorite issues: immigration and alleged voting fraud.

It’s unclear whether the speaker will get an explicit endorsement from Trump in his battle to remain atop the House. One of Trump’s closest GOP allies, Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-Ga.), is threatening to depose Johnson if he brings Ukraine aid to the floor, something Johnson has pledged to do. And Johnson doesn’t have the same relationship with Trump as did the former House speaker, McCarthy, whom he called “My Kevin.

McCarthy played down Trump’s influence on legislation during an appearance Tuesday at Georgetown University. Citing…

This article was originally published by a . Read the Original article here. .

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